Hore wins court battle; gun licence reinstated

Andrew Hore.
Andrew Hore.
Former All Black Andrew Hore has won his court battle to have his firearms licence reinstated despite a judge’s concerns over his attitude to shooting and alcohol.

The ex-Highlanders hooker was stripped of his licence in October 2015 following an incident five months earlier when 25-year-old Daniel Parker sustained a gunshot wound while duck shooting on Mr Hore’s Ranfurly farm known as "Stonehenge".

The six-strong hunting party told authorities a firearm had fallen from the back of a quad bike and accidentally discharged, but police were sceptical about the explanation.

He took his case to the Dunedin District Court last year and Judge Michael Crosbie released his judgement yesterday overruling the police decision.

The judge was particularly critical of the police case, which saw them decline to cross-examine Mr Hore or anyone  who wrote affidavits in his support.

The only person called to give evidence at the November hearing was Inspector Olaf Jensen, who relied on the assessment of two ambulance officers who attended the 2015 incident.

"That was a significant shortcoming in this appeal and the approach taken by the police on appeal appeared half-hearted," Judge Crosbie said.

The most high profile of those to file a reference in Mr Hore’s favour was his former All Black captain Richie McCaw.

"From my experience in using firearms with him, and having observed his demeanour and cautious approach to firearms use, I have no concerns around his firearms licence being restored to him," he wrote.

If the police had wanted to question Mr McCaw or any of the deponents he would have had to give evidence at the appeal hearing at the Dunedin District Court.

Another who spoke up in favour of Mr Hore was All Black mental-skills coach Gilbert Enoka, who called him "honest, loyal and reliable".

"A quite responsible person  . . . [nothing] suggestive of a personality disorder indulging in risk taking or any other tendency that would make him an inappropriate person to hold a firearms licence."

Mr Hore was convicted of supplying a firearm to an unlicensed person over the shooting incident and fined $400, plus court costs of $130.

Judge Crosbie said the sentence indicated the offence was at the lower end of the scale.However, the judge remained worried about Mr Hore’s attitude.

"I am concerned about the line maintained by the appellant with respect to alcohol. I am well aware that there are those who will advocate for the culture if a few drinks when shooting, although from his own evidence I query whether the appellant’s habits are of ‘a few’," he said.

"The appellant’s status as a sportsman has undoubtedly attracted more attention towards his transgressions than might otherwise be the case, a reminder of the magnifying glass that lies over the lives of many. Rightly or wrongly, such status often attracts behavioural expectations and scrutiny from the public. In that regard, the appellant’s thinking around firearms and alcohol might require some calibration."

Judge Crosbie accepted from defence counsel David Robinson that there was no evidence of gross intoxication. Though a now infamous incident where Mr Hore shot and killed a male seal on the Otago Peninsula was 10 years ago, he said he was entitled to take previous conduct into account.

The judge noted the revocation had seen the ex-rugby player without a firearms licence for 18 months and he hoped it would be a "salutary reminder" of his responsibilities.

The shortcomings in Mr Hore’s behaviour were "outweighed by the positive and unchallenged character evidence presented to this court", Judge Crosbie said.